An Old Fashioned Greenhouse Raisin’

Hey all you Fat Toad Farm blog readers!

I’m Lily Baker, an intern here at the farm.  I’ve been here for about three months, and for the rest of my internship, about three more months, I’ll be blogging here every so often.  Nice to meet you all, and hope you enjoy!


So, you know how in the “olden days” the whole neighborhood would get together for a barn raising?  I’ve never seen a barn raising, but I’ve seen a few barns, and I can only imagine how many people and how much ingenuity it must take to build one of those things without industrial equipment.  In any case, to add to the list of ways in which Vermont is a bizarre and wonderful mix of the new and the very, very old: yesterday I attended a greenhouse raising.

Pretty days are the best for building buildings.  Also, tall scaffolding is tall.

Our neighbors, John and Lynn, own a farm called Spruce Lane Farm.  Though the name comes from their 30+ years in the pick-your-own Christmas tree business in Connecticut, they now have a market garden, and sell veggies, vegetable and herb starts, and potted plants.  They also grow all of the veggies we eat here at the farm, and I work with them at least a few afternoons a week in their greenhouses and fields, getting a bit of veggie work experience and absorbing their wisdom.  A few weeks ago, John and Lynn received a grant from the USDA to install a fancy new coldframe hoophouse!  Yay!  After a long few weeks leveling the land, waiting for the parts to be delivered, hoping for the weather to break, and constructing the frame, yesterday was finally the day to put the finishing touches on the project.

John and his toolbelt and mustache are hard at work.

The roof and walls of this kind of greenhouse are made out of one tremendous sheet of plastic.  I wasn’t there for the part where they pulled the plastic over the top of the house, assisted by a high-tech rope and tennis ball assembly, but I was there for the part where we aligned everything and tacked it down.  Actually most of the neighborhood was there.  John and our neighbor Dan were up on scaffolding at either end, wiring the roof into place, as the rest of us held the corners and the walls taut and in place.  One gust of wind could have sent us all flying, but luckily none came.  After the ends were secured, we moved on to the sides, everyone tugging on the plastic while John, Lynn, and Dan wired it in place starting in the center.   Any little bit of puckering along the edge could weaken the walls and shorten the life of the greenhouse.

Everyone is out here to help.  Many hands aren’t just nice, they’re necessary!

I wish I had a picture of Mr. Childs, Dan’s father, who must must have been about 90 years old, sitting in his folding chair.  In a long and illustrious tradition of old people coming out to watch their neighbors’ construction endeavors, he was our spectator for the afternoon.  Greenhouses get fancier every year, but some things never change.


One thought on “An Old Fashioned Greenhouse Raisin’

  1. I wish I had been sitting beside Mr. Childs. I find it amazing how everyone gets together to make a big job possible. Oh, how I miss being there!

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